What Is the Treatment for Disc Osteophyte Complex?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 24 January 2019
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Treatment for disc osteophyte complex ranges from medication to reduce inflammation and pain to surgery to remove bone spurs. Physical therapy might strengthen muscles and improve posture, easing pressure on the spine, which is a common complaint in disc ostetophyte complex disorders. Some doctors treat the condition with steroid injections repeated periodically.

This complex defines a degenerative condition of the spinal column. It occurs when bony growths form to help support the spine as cartilage breaks down with age. Spongy material in discs cushions each vertebra to absorb shock and allow flexibility of the backbone. If osteophytes, or spurs, develop, they could limit the amount space between vertebrae and might put pressure on nerves.

In mild cases, anti-inflammatory medication or muscle relaxers might ease back or neck pain and stiffness. Doctors treating disc osteophyte complex might suggest rest to relieve pressure on nerves, or exercises to improve posture. Pain medication might also be prescribed.

Severe cases of this condition that cannot be treated with exercise or medication might require surgery to remove bone spurs, especially if nerve pressure affects the patient’s motor control. The removal of small pieces of bone might allow more space between vertebrae and ease pressure on nerves. Surgery typically occurs when all other treatment methods fail and the patient suffers extreme pain and limited movement.


Symptoms of the complex include pain, usually in the neck or lower back, and stiffness that restricts movement. Some patients report a tingling or numbness in the hands, feet, legs, or arms when nerves are compressed. Headaches might also occur. The condition typically becomes worse over time and might lead to paralysis if left untreated.

Normal aging might cause disc osteophyte complex as bones and discs degenerate. Trauma or injury to the spinal column might also cause abrasion between vertebrae and the development of bone spurs to compensate for the damage. Diseases, such as arthritis and osteoporosis, might also weaken the spinal column and lead to bony growths. This complex might also stem from nutritional deficiencies and poor posture, along with a genetic link.

The condition might be prevented by a diet with sufficient calcium and vitamins. Regular exercise typically keeps muscles and ligaments strong to support the spine. Exercise might also prevent obesity, which is one of the risk factors for spinal damage. Doctors usually advise patients who participate in contact sports to use care to prevent injuries and avoid any activity that puts pressure on the spinal cord.


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